Academia Downplays IRS Scandals

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Although academics have never been in short supply to discuss political scandals, there seems to be a caveat: They tend to be crises in which Republicans are the alleged malefactors.

Thus, from Watergate to Iran-Contra, professors have been ubiquitous in offering commentary on current events. In striking contrast, they seem to have been on sabbatical while the Obama Administration emerged at the vortex of three controversies in May involving the IRS, Benghazi and the monitoring of AP stories and sources. Maybe it was finals week.

“Nevertheless, what the IRS did to Tea Party groups was wrong, just as what the IRS has done for years to liberal groups was wrong,” John K. Wilson wrote on the Academe blog maintained by the American Association of University Professors.” What this absurdly overwrought ‘scandal’ should result is in a much stronger commitment to freedom of political speech, including by nonprofit organizations.”

Wilson is probably one of the more reasonable voices at academe. Nevertheless, he notes that the IRS under Bush investigated Obama’s Church. Perhaps, but did they ask what Jeremiah Wright read?

Yet and still, don’t expect any latent curiosity in academic circles about whether power was abused, by who, and how legal it was. The Poynter Institute presented a conference at the Washington Post last weekend which featured WaPo blogger Ezra Klein on the topic, “Hard Facts, Easy Reading.”

“On Tuesday, it looked like we had three possible political scandals brewing,” Klein wrote on May 16, 2013. “Two days later, with much more evidence available, it doesn’t look like any of them will pan out.”

“There’ll be more hearings, and more bad press for the Obama administration, and more demands for documents. But — and this is a key qualification — absent more revelations, the scandals that could reach high don’t seem to include any real wrongdoing, whereas the ones that include real wrongdoing don’t reach high enough.”

And this is a key qualification—yet.


Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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